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temptation to resist or escape. More and more continually will this be the purpose and employment of life. With increasing resolution he will go from strength to strength,' improve in holiness as he increases in years, and become from time to time, more and more 'meet to be a partaker with the saints in light' in their communion and their joys.
1. From these observations we learn, that a repentance may exist and go far, and yet not be evangelical.
From the account already given of the repentance experienced by Judas, it is plain that he entertained such views and felt such emotions as are also felt by true penitents. There is nothing in the nature of the case which hinders all these, and others like them, from being experienced by any false penitent. From this fact it is clear, that false repentance may be easily mistaken for the true; and equally clear, that a careful discrimination is indispensably necessary to distinguish them from each other. Otherwise, the false penitent may be easily and, for aught that appears, fatally deceived. If the account here given of evangelical repentance be admitted, the distinction. between this and all counterfeits is clear and decisive. The false penitent never forms just views of the nature of sin, never hates it as evil done to God and his fellow-creatures, never in this view mourns for it, never confesses it ingenuously, and never faithfully forsakes it. He who cannot find these things in his heart and conduct may safely conclude that his repentance is not that of the Gospel.
2. The same observations prove that repentance is a spirit justly according with the real state of things.
The penitent is really, as he pronounces himself to be, a sinner, guilty in the sight of God and deserving of his wrath. Sin is really the great evil which he feels and acknowledges it to be; and is therefore to be hated, lamented, confessed, and forsaken in the very manner determined on by himself. His situation is in all respects as bad, and his character as unworthy as he supposes them. The views which he entertains of himself therefore are exactly agreeable to truth, and such as he is plainly bound to entertain. All views of himself and
of his condition which are discordant with these would be contrary to truth, and a mere mass of falsehood. Of the same nature are the affections involved in evangelical Repentance. They are the very affections which necessarily arise out of these views, and the only affections which in the penitent's case correspond with truth. Of course, they are plain and indispensable parts of his duty.
3. These observations teach us that repentance is absolutely necessary to salvation.
Without repentance the sinner would still continue to be a sinner; an enemy to holiness and to God, to happiness and to Heaven. If he did not hate sin it would be physically impossible that he should forsake it, that he should love or practise holiness that he should be cordially reconciled to God, that he should relish the happiness of heaven, or that he should desire or enjoy the friendship of virtuous beings. It would be impossible that he should receive Christ as his Saviour, trust in his righteousness for acceptance, love his character, or welcome his mediation. At the same time it would be morally impossible that God should receive or justify the sinner, unite him to his family, or restore him to his favour. To all these things repentance is plainly and absolutely indispensable.
The views which the penitent entertains of moral subjects, and the affections with which he regards them, prepare him, and are indispensably necessary to prepare him, to partake of the favour of God, the employments of holiness, and the blessings of redemption. Evangelical repentance is the beginning of moral health in the soul. At the commencement of its existence the former evil, morbid principles begin to lose their hold, and to have their power diminished. The divine Physician then first achieves his victory over the moral diseases which were before incurable, and the balm of Gilead begins to restore its decayed and ruined faculties. From this moment immortal health, the life of heaven, returns to the languishing mind, health that cannot decay, life that cannot terminate, the youth of angels which cannot grow old, but is formed to increase and bloom and flourish for ever.
BUT THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT IS LOVE.
GALATIANS V. 22.
HAVING considered in preceding Discourses, faith in Christ and repentance unto life, the two first of those moral attributes which I called the Attendants of Regeneration; I shall now go on to examine the nature of the third and fourth of these attributes, viz. love to God, and love to mankind. As both these are only exercises of the same disposition directed towards different objects, I shall here consider them together; reserving a separate discussion of them to a future occasion. St. Paul informs us, that Love,' viz. the disposition mentioned in the text, is the fulfilling of the law;' that is, of the two great commands, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and thy neighbour as thyself.' These commands constitute a primary part of a theological system, and will necessarily become a subject of particular investigation in the progress of these Discourses. They will therefore furnish an ample opportunity for the separate consideration of these two great exercises of love.
In examining this subject at the present time, it is my design,
I. I shall endeavour to exhibit the nature of evangelical
1. The love of the Gospel is a delight in happiness: or, in other words, Good-will towards percipient beings, as capable of happiness.
Happiness is the object ultimately and always aimed at by the mind under the influence of this affection. As percipient beings are the only beings capable of happiness, the love of happiness is, of course, the love of percipient beings. Of these, intelligent beings are capable of so much greater and more important happiness than mere animals, as scarcely to allow of any comparison between them. The love of happiness therefore is supremely the love of intelligent beings. This accordingly has been assumed as a definition of love. It is not however metaphysically correct. 'A righteous' or virman will,' as such, regard the life,' and of course the happiness universally, of his beast;' and this, though a small, cannot fail to be a real object of his regard.
A delight in happiness, metaphysically considered, supposes it enjoyed, or already in possession. When it is not enjoyed, and yet is supposed to be possible, the same affection becomes and is styled, the desire of happiness. Whatever we delight in when present and possessed, we desire when absent, or unpossessed. The mind under the influence of this affection therefore, while it rejoices in happiness actually enjoyed, necessarily wishes its existence wherever it is capable of being enjoyed.
2. This love of happiness is universal.
This proposition follows unavoidably from the former. If the mind delights in happiness as such, it is plain that this delight will exist wherever the happiness is found. If it desire happiness as such, this desire will be extended to every case in which it perceives that happiness may be enjoyed.* The delight, therefore, will be co-extended with the knowledge which the mind at any given time possesses of actual enjoyment; and the desire with its knowledge of possible enjoyment. So far then as the views of any mind in which this disposition exists extend, its love of happiness will be universal.
3. This love of happiness is just.
By this I intend, that the greater happiness, whether actual
or possible, will be loved more, and the smaller happiness less. Inis also is inherent in the very nature of the affection. If the mind delight in happiness, it follows necessarily that this delight must increase as the object of it increases. For example; if it delight in the happiness of one being, it will equally delight in the same happiness of a second; in the same manner in that of a third; of a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, and so on, in that of any given or supposable number. Or, should we suppose one of these beings to be happy in any given degree, and that happiness doubled, tripled, quadrupled, or increased in any other degree, the delight of such a mind in this object would be increased in the same proportion. I do not here intend that this affection will operate with the mathematical exactness here stated. I am well aware that such minds as ours are utterly incapable of operating with their affections in this perfect manner. This mode of illustration has been here used for the sake of exhibiting the general proposition in a manner clear and decisive, and, if I mistake not, it unanswerably evinces the truth of the proposition.
In entire accordance with this doctrine we are commanded to love God with all the heart,' not only as an object of our complacency, but of our benevolence also. We are not only required to approve of his perfect character, but also to delight in his perfect happiness, or, as we more usually term it, blessedness. His perfect character is the cause of which his perfect happiness is the effect. The former it is our duty to regard with supreme complacency, the latter it is equally our duty to regard with supreme benevolence.
No less accordant with this disposition, also, is the second command of the same law. 'Our neighbour,' that is, any and every individual of the human race is the subject of the same happiness as ourselves. We are therefore required to ‘love our neighbour as ourselves:' viz. because his happiness is of the same importance as our own; not indeed mathematically, but generally and indefinitely, as the words of the command import.
It is to be observed here, that benevolence is the only object of this command. The greater part of those who are included here, under the word neighbour,' are wholly destitute. of virtue in the evangelical sense. But towards any and all